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Interstate Bank Building Fire;

ELEVATORS

No elevators were used by the Fire Department during this incident. There is a standard policy in the Los Angeles City Fire Department not to use elevators that have a shaft opening within five floors of the fire floor. The use of any elevators was ruled out based on the amount of fire that was visible from the street.

The building contained 31 passenger elevators in four banks above the main lobby, two banks for sublevels, and two service (freight) elevators. Both service elevators served all levels and were provided with a lobby at each floor. All of the elevators were designed to be recalled to the ground floor lobby on smoke detector activation. Some elevator cars were returned to the ground floor, but those that had been in use by cleaning and maintenance crews were on "Independent Service" and could not be recalled. Other cars were not accounted for because their doors did not open when they returned to the ground floor. One elevator stopped on the 22nd floor and one stopped on the 33rd floor. This caused concern that individuals could be trapped in the 10 "missing" elevators and attempts were made to locate these cars. Their locations were eventually determined by the elevator maintenance personnel who were taken to the rooftop machine room by helicopter.

The single fatality was found in a service elevator. The building employee, who went to the 12th floor to investigate the alarm, was trapped and died when the elevator opened into a burning lobby. The lobby fire separation was compromised by a cleaner's cart blocking the door open. The victim was able to call for help on his portable radio, but other employees had no means to rescue him. This elevator was put on independent service through the use of a key by the building employee.

Lobby isolation doors had been installed on the passenger elevator lobbies of several floors, including the 12th and were successful in keeping fire and smoke out and providing a potential area of refuge. The isolation doors were being installed as the building was renovated.. The fire reached the elevator shafts on floors where the doors had not been installed, and they became additional vertical conduits for heat and smoke. The machine room on the 22nd floor, which served the "low rise" elevators, received extensive heat and smoke damage. Smoke traveled throughout the building above the 12th floor via the elevator shafts.

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